2021 Sporting Year in Review: Outstanding NZ Teams - Blackcaps unanimously take title

As a pandemic-plagued 2021 draws to a close, Newshub's sporting experts reflect on the highs and lows of another dramatic year that featured (finally) the Tokyo Olympics, another All Blacks campaign and international honours for our Blackcaps cricketers. 

Our top NZ team were...

Grant Chapman, Newshub digital sports lead


To appreciate what this New Zealand cricket team has achieved over the past 5-6 years, maybe you need to be old enough to remember how bad we've been in this sport historically.

Particularly test cricket. Think the Mumbai disaster, consistently.

So to see the Blackcaps overcome India - whose players are worshipped like gods in their native land - in the World Test Championship final was the culmination of a true David v Goliath story.

Maybe it didn't completely wash away the bitter taste of the 2019 World Cup final 'defeat' to England two years ago and maybe it was tainted just a little by the subsequent T20 World Cup loss to Australia.

Kyle Jamieson with the World Test Championship mace.
Kyle Jamieson with the World Test Championship mace. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

Harking back to the 2015 World Cup, some churlishly suggested these Blackcaps had actually lost three of the four finals they had contested, all but branding them chokers on the big stage.

But as high-performance athletes, all you can hope is to consistently put yourself in a position to win, which this team have achieved to the point they have spoiled the NZ sporting public.

Brad Lewis, Newshub digital sports producer


Their all-round work pips the men's rowing eight for me. 

Winners of the World Test Championship, a T20 World Cup final, a T20 series win over Australia, and test series wins over England (away), Pakistan and the West Indies.

The Blackcaps play the game the right way - no dickheads - and continue to surprise the doubters with continued success. 

I'm willing to overlook a poor second test result in India in an otherwise fantastic year for the team.

Lucy Thomson, Newshub sports reporter & producer


Without doubt, the Blackcaps have staked their claim across all formats of the game in 2021. 

In June, the team were officially crowned world test champions, beating India by eight wickets in the inaugural final at Southampton.

Kane Williamson is congratulated by India captain Virat Kohli.
Kane Williamson is congratulated by India captain Virat Kohli. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

Regardless of their more recent T20 World Cup disappointment, where the side were beaten by Australia in the final, Gary Stead and his side can walk away with their heads held high.

Special mention must go to Ajaz Patel for his outstanding individual performance, becoming just the third test cricketer to take 10 wickets in an innings.

Ollie Ritchie, Newshub sports reporter


What a year it was for this side, expertly led by Kane Williamson once again. 

Winning the World Test Championship was one of the greatest moments in this country's cricketing history, with two of our greatest servants in Williamson and Ross Taylor there to see it through at the end. 

Add to that the final of the T20 World Cup, where we were barely expected to make it out of the group stage, and this truly has been a special year for this team. 

The way in which they carry themselves and interact with the media is also something to be admired. 

Alex Powell, Newshub digital sports producer


Melbourne 2015, Lord's 2019. 

Twice this Blackcaps side had found themselves in major world tournament finals and twice had they come undone, albeit in different circumstances.

Ross Taylor and Devon Conway with the World Test Championship mace
Ross Taylor and Devon Conway with the World Test Championship mace Photo credit: Image - Photosport

So imagine the nerves when the team reached a third final, this time contesting the inaugural World Test Championship at Southampton.

Up against an Indian side still high on a series victory over Australia at Brisbane, the Blackcaps were comfortable underdogs over the scheduled 5-6 days, but when has that ever stopped this New Zealand cricket team?

Led by Kane Williamson with the bat and Kyle Jamieson with the ball, the Blackcaps faced more of a challenge from the English weather than Virat Kohli's India. After tea on day six, Ross Taylor whipped four off his pads through midwicket and gave New Zealand its first men's cricket title since 2000 - the ICC's Knockout Trophy, where they coincidentally also beat India in the final.

Then, to add to their growing legacy, the Blackcaps stunned the world to reach the final of the Twenty20 World Cup in the UAE, ending the tournament for favourites England and India (again).

They may have fallen short in the final, but it's hard to think of a Kiwi side that's given the nation more pride in 2021 than the Blackcaps.

Stephen Foote, Newshub sports digital producer


Move over All Blacks, it's the Blackcaps' nation now.

Riding their momentum from 2020, the Blackcaps powered their way up the ICC rankings across all formats and into the hearts of households across Aotearoa this year.

With a cast of characters and a backstage curtain always fully drawn, the Blackcaps have been held up as a symbol of the 'gentleman's game' and endeared themselves to fans far beyond NZ shores with their brand of highly skillful, highly intelligent, firm-but-fair cricket.

And they have the results to match. They kicked off the year with a Twenty20 series win over Australia, before cruising to one-day international and T20 series sweeps of Bangladesh.

In June, the Kiwis outclassed England to claim their first test series win in the UK since 1999 - the ideal warm-up for the main event - the World Test Championship final against India.

Their eight-wicket victory over the favoured Indians was the crowning glory, helping erase the heartache of defeats in the finals of the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, lifting 'The Mace' as the world's best in the most prestigious form of the game.

The Blackcaps celebrate Kyle Jamieson taking a wicket.
The Blackcaps celebrate Kyle Jamieson taking a wicket. Photo credit: Image - Photosport

While they weren't able to get their hands raised, the Blackcaps showed their now trademark mettle to dig themselves out of some tricky situations to reach yet another ICC pinnacle event final at the T20 World Cup in the UAE, showcasing their consistency across all three formats.

The Blackcaps finish the year as No.1 ODI team, No.4 T20 side and with only a late stumble against India denying them the No.1 spot in tests. Their case as the best overall side in international cricket is a strong one.

With established stars like Kane Williamson and Trent Boult, alongside emerging superstars Devon Conway and Kyle Jamieson, and prospects such as Glenn Phillips and Daryl Mitchell lurking, New Zealand cricket's depth of talent has never been greater.

Those dark days when the Blackcaps butchering games was a punchline in the Kiwi sporting lexicon are nothing but a distant memory. 

Long may it last.